Monday, October 31, 2011

Fan Friendly

Keeneland announced they had a 9.3% increase in all source handle for the meet that concluded this weekend.

Is there a more fan friendly track than Keeneland out there in racetrack land?

I dedicate the bulk of my wagering money to tracks that I feel want my business, and it got me thinking. What tracks do I find fan-friendly on the thoroughbred and harness side? Which tracks do I feel good about supporting?

Top Three Thoroughbred Tracks

1. The aforementioned Keeneland: I don't have poly-fright (in fact I like the big fields, the uncertainty and modeling jockeys), so that isn't a strike for me. A polycapping database, they keep their fans informed, they lobbied for a takeout reduction early in the decade (that was rejected, but prescient), a willingness to card large fields at all costs without dogma, and a fine on-track experience. Hands down, a track I love to support with my money.

2. Tampa Bay: There is plenty of work to do for Tampa to reach Keenland for me, but any track that moves from about 68th in the HANA rankings to number three is clearly doing something right. On-trackers have nothing but good to say about this track too.

3. Monmouth: It plays fair, the marketing department tries hard, and they were the first track to try something different for the customer with the elite meet. They were also the first track with a 15% pick 4 and pick 5.

Honorable mention is Hawthorne: They try their asses off, have lowered rake the best they can right now, and are always looking for player feedback to get better.

Top Three Harness Tracks

1. Tioga: The owners and racing managers lobbied the New York State Wagering Board for "the lowest takeout allowed by law" and got it. They are carding stakes races that once raced at the Meadowlands. On track buzz is huge. Anyone who says this gets my number one ranking with a bullet:
  • "Jeff [track owner Jeff Gural] and I would like to see the takeout lowered to nine or 10 per cent," he was quoted as saying in the ESPN.com article. "That way it would be equal to what the take is on the slots. We want to put the horseplayer on an equal level with the people who play the slots."
2. Balmoral Park: Try and try they might. The push and promotion of the low takeout pick 4 is noticed by players. There are some decent fields and they put on a worthwhile product for fans.

3. Northfield: They lowered takeout, the drivers try each race like they are racing for a million dollar purse. Fun place to watch.

Those are the tracks I watch and think "they really want me as a customer". I also don't think it is a coincidence that the six tracks listed are not dependent wholly on slot machines.

Do you have any you feel treat you well that I did not list?

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I watch Northfield..... and I confess I bet Keeneland (and I normally hate the polycrap)

Wendy said...

I don't know enough about the harness tracks but I COMPLETELY agree with your choices for the thoroughbred tracks. Right down to Hawthorne! There is something old school and warm about family owned Hawthorne...

The_Knight_Sky said...

I'm still waiting for Tampa Bay Downs to announce their annual pre-meet Takeout Reductions to build positive waves.

Did I miss the press release?

As for Monmouth Park's marketing, they've been operating with one hand tied behind their back with a reduced budget while the track ownership is in turmoil.

If you feel Monmouth Park has done a decent job the past two years, I suggest you wait until they can revamp (and update) their website and have a definitive start and stop racing dates to look forward to every year. I'm also looking forward to a new and updated media guide - one that was not produced for this summer.

It's about getting focused on the main portion of the meet. Much to do, little in the way of personnel or budget.